Monday, February 19, 2007

Development Deadlines Looming

Three development deadlines are coming up soon.

February 21 marks 60 days since the City Council approved an extension of conditional designations for developers of the North Avenue tract and the Marino’s tract. Plaintalker incorrectly stated that the East Richmond/Third redevelopment project was up for renewal this coming week, but that developer has a 90-day conditional designation that runs out March 6.

The conditional designations mean that the developers get exclusive consideration while agreements are worked out among the city, the Union County Improvement Authority and the developer. The City Council agreed last year to put the UCIA in charge of numerous redevelopment functions, including needs studies, redevelopment plans and working out agreements for each project.

Plaintalker’s error on Feb. 9 shows the folly of trying to blog when the indoor temperature is between 38 and 56 degrees, a condition that has since been fixed. Kind of gives a new meaning to the term “brain freeze.”

Anyway, delving through the big red folder of redevelopment stuff, Plaintalker sees that it is time for action on the three conditional designations.

The proposed developer for the Marino’s tract on West Front Street is AST Development Corp. of Lavallette, the same group that developed the Park-Madison complex that includes governmental offices, stores and a parking deck. The plan for the Marino’s tract includes a supermarket. AST received a 90-day conditional designation in August which was extended in December for 60 days.

Landmark Development Corp. of Jersey City similarly received conditional designation in August as developer of the North Avenue tract near the main train station and also got an extension in December. The proposed redevelopment area includes the North Avenue Historic District, but city officials recently proposed expanding the area north and west. The effect of an expansion on talks with the developer since August is not known.

The third deadline is for Capodagli Property Company, the conditionally designated developer for 20 properties in the East Third/Richmond tract. The company proposes 352 residential units in five buildings. The 90-day designation runs out March 6.

The East Third/Richmond tract includes properties owned by the Thul family, which has had a business there for more than 90 years. Some other parcels in the target area are owned by the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, which is in the process of consolidating its offices there.

Except for brief presentations on the proposed developments and council and Planning Board votes on needs studies and redevelopment plans, the public has seen little of the process. Negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, so the deadlines present the only clues as to how things are going. At each deadline, the City Council has the choice of extending a conditional designation or letting it expire.

The three proposals are among an increasing number of development plans, mostly for condos. Dornoch Plainfield’s plan for 63 condos over a new senior center is the only one to have received site plan approval.

--Bernice Paglia


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